The event’s full title is called “NBA Special Edition PResented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes,” and it will premiere at 4:30 pm PT/7:30 pm ET on ESPN2, ESPN+, and ESPN Deportes.
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Every Upcoming Movie and TV Show
Essentially, this is ESPN’s way of injecting a little Marvel into real sports. The telecast will include an “original” Marvel story and characters like Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange will make appearances during the live game. Somehow, I don’t think this event will be canon to the MCU.
Here’s a summary of the original story that will play during the game:
After a narrow victory over an invading alien army, the Avengers receive an ominous threat from the enemy who vows to return in greater numbers and force. The Black Panther and Iron Man quickly realize they will need more help and form a plan to expand their ranks to fight this impending threat. Recognizing the superior physical abilities, agility, and tenacity of Earth’s greatest athletes, the Avengers will hold a series of contests where the winners earn the right to train and fight alongside them as Marvel’s Champions! The Avengers will begin their recruitment with the NBA elite and observe the battle between the Warriors and the Pelicans, focusing on three star players from each team.
As part of these festivities, players like Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins from the Warriors; and Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball from the Pelicans will factor into the event.
These players will earn “Marvel Hero Points” for every point, rebound, assist, steal and block; and lose a point for missed field goals, free throws, or turnovers.
ESPN commentators Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will commentate from a fully Marvel-themed studio alongside commentary from Marvel expert Angélique Roché
A traditional telecast will be available on the regular ESPN channel for basketball fans who don’t want to see an ESPN Marvel crossover.
Disney acquired ESPN in 1996 as part of its acquisition of ABC. And since Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 for $4 billion, this whole event can be seen as a move of corporate synergy.
For more, check out our review of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale for more of our MCU coverage.
Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor.